So what's changed? Well, I have a book published, and another coming out next year. This has been a dream of mine since I was 13 years old, and to say it's been a life-altering experience is an understatement. Whatever happens in the future – and I hope that involves getting more books published, but you can never take anything for granted in this business – there is a book out there with my name on it. Yes, I'm still pinching myself.
Even more thrilling is when readers get in touch to tell you they've enjoyed your book. My favourite email so far has to be from a lady who told me that thanks to ACID, she's started reading again after a very long break. To think that the words I wrote on my sofa, on my dented laptop, can do that for someone… wow.
I've also been doing lots of school visits and events. Writing can be a lonely business, and it's so much fun to get out and meet readers and other authors – I love it!
What hasn't changed, however, is that I still don't feel like I know what I'm doing. At all.
I used to think that if I got published, something would go ping inside my head and all the struggles I encountered when trying to write my novels would magically disappear. I'd feel confident about my plots. I'd be able to work out my characters' motivations first time round. I wouldn't get stuck halfway through and have to go back and work out where it had all gone wrong. And I most definitely wouldn't have many, many days where I felt like the Worst Writer Ever™ and doubted my ability to finish a single sentence.
Er… no. Ironically, since ACID sold, I've doubted myself more, not less. This has partly been the dreaded second novel syndrome (yes, it exists) - writing to a deadline for the first time EVER, worrying whether my publisher will like it, worrying whether readers will like it… you get the idea.
Part of it also comes from being more aware of the writing process. Now, when something in my stories isn't working, I know straight away. I can no longer kid myself that it'll be OK, and carry on in a haze of blissful ignorance. These days, writing is a stop-start-stop-start process for me; very rarely do I sit down and start typing, and the words just flow.
But I've found ways of coping, mostly by reminding myself that I've done this before, and I can do it again. There's always a way through, even if finding it involves a lot of rewriting, hair-pulling and
And nothing beats the excitement of opening up a blank word document and typing the first line of a story that's been keeping you awake at night – it's worth all the stress that inevitably follows, just for that!
Having a support network has helped, too. Getting to know other writers via Twitter and Facebook has led to me being involved with two group blogs, The Lucky 13s and Author Allsorts. Once upon a time, I kept my writing a secret and didn't know any other writers at all. Now, I know many other people who understand the highs and lows of the writing process, which makes those difficult times less scary.
To finish, here are two of those moments of total awesomeness…
No. 1: ACID has been nominated for the 2014 Coventry Inspiration Book Award, 'Just the Book' (14+) category. I don't know who else is on the shortlist yet, and the winner isn't announced until February, but as soon as I have more details, I'll let you know. Here's the 2013 shortlist - I think you'll agree that whoever's on it this time round, I'm going to be in some very distinguished company!
No. 2: last week, ACID was Number 3 in the Waterstones Children's Sci-Fi Bestsellers list, two books below Rick Yancey's THE FIFTH WAVE. Waah! A huge thank you to everyone who's bought, read and helped spread the word about ACID - it wouldn't have got there without you!
Before you go, check out today's post over at Author Allsorts, where I and some other members of the group are sharing our favourite pieces of advice for budding authors and illustrators.
See you next time!